Words: 2,000 (of 6,000)
Pairing/Charecter(s): Ancient!John, Rodney, Elizabeth; John/Rodney
Warnings/Spoliers: part 2 of #17 (see part 1) in the Ancient!John 'verse; post-"Inferno," with some heavy borrowing from SG1's "Avalon," part 2 and "The Fourth Horseman," part 1.
Disclaimer: Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine.
Summary: The truth cannot stay hidden forever.
Notes: This has been killer to write. I'm not even entirely happy with the way it turned out now, but, god, I'm just glad this part's done with. Hopefully it works. Also, the Latin/Alteran in this chapie is translated in-text, but if you've any questions on it feel free to ask. As well, the three planets/races mentioned in the chappie - the Morderati, the Gaheres, and the Valuanii - get their names from the Latin versions from three famous brothers from Arthurian legend: Modred, Gareth, and Gawain, who in legend are either the daughters of Arthur's half-sister Morgause or Morgan le Fey. Obviously this isn't the case in Stargate, but I liked the call-back.
An Ancient!John Story
Once upon a time...
Once upon a time there was a race of people that went on a great journey through space, across the length and breadth of the universe itself. And they were called the Altera.
The Altera were a wretched race, who, for their sins of pride and vainglory, were cursed to wander the stars for all eternity, never to again know the succor of their own clear waters or the warmth of their own mother star. For in their youth they mistook knowledge for wisdom and violence for power, and in so doing destroyed the blue world which gave them birth.
"What's wrong with him?"
"I dunno... He seems okay. Maybe it's his translation matrix?"
"Wouldn't he have still heard us?"
"We're talking about thousands of tiny machines that have been messing around with his brain chemistry since he was five years old, Elizabeth. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that they've got their fingers in every pie, so to speak."
"They put those things in him when he was five?"
"That's what John said."
"Who would do that to a child?"
"My bet? Janus."
"His own father?"
"I've been working on decrypting some of the notes he left behind and I gotta tell you, he's one in-law I'm glad I'm never going to have to meet."
And for a time the Altera were penitent. Where once they had warred over nations and false gods, they now sought to better themselves through science and self-reflection, traveling through the stars on great ships that housed all that remained of their people, the universe's firstborn children, not trusting themselves to settle on another blue world or to learn the warmth of foreign stars.
And so they wandered for many thousands of years within their sea of stars, until one day they came upon a world such as they had never seen before. A blue world which had, like their own lost home, given birth to life of its own. And this world they called Morderatus and its people Morderati.
"Should we call Carson?"
"Not yet. Like I said, it's probably just something with his translation matrix. Or the fact that he's in the Control Chair. The matrices might not be able to work when he's connected to the city."
"How's your spoken Ancient?"
"Better than it was when we first got here, that's for sure. Let's see here. John? Iohannes? Licinus? Potes audire me?"
"Te evidenter audire possum, Moreducus. Quid eges?" Iohannes mumbles, both irritated at being bothered when he's so clearly busy and glad that the voices around him have finally decided to become intelligible-
No, not voices. Descendants. Terrans. Rodney and Elizabeta, the new custodia-rector and praefecta; his amator and one of his closest friends. How could he have forgotten that, even for a moment? He must be deeper in Atlantis' mainframe than he'd realized. Being a pastor in a cathedra has always been a balancing act between man and machine working in harmony and both of them forgetting where each stopped and the other began, but he doesn't remember it as ever having been quite so easy Before.
Of course, Before he'd never spent more than seventy hours at a time in the cathedra, and he'd spent his long, slow journey into the future doing nothing but.
"Well that's something at least - he can, apparently, hear us. Even if he's being a bit snippy about it."
"I can speak Ancient too, Rodney."
"What? Oh. Yes. Sorry. Usually when he does this, it's when I'm the only one around with any clue what he's saying."
The Morderati were a young race when the Altera found them, not yet sailors of stars, but mature enough to greet the Altera with open arms. And the Altera, seeing many of the same faults in the Morderati that had led to the loss of their own home, offered their newfound brothers what knowledge they had without reservation, in the hopes that it would prevent the loss of another blue world.
But the Morderati were young and had even less wisdom than the Altera, and used their borrowed knowledge to destroy their blue world as the Altera had once destroyed their own, and themselves along with it, until the Morderati were utterly lost to the universe, and the Altera were alone in the sea of stars once more.
"I'm not sure John has any idea what he's saying now."
"What do you mean?"
"Rodney, he just called you Moreducus."
"What? You're the only one who can have an Ancient name, Elizabeta?"
"No. It's just not what I would've expected."
"My first name's Meredith, okay? Moreducus is the Ancient version, since apparently they didn't have one for Rodney, which is the name I prefer to go by, for obvious reasons. Now, if we're finished with the unpleasant and, frankly, embarrassing, personal revelations, do you want to ask John why exactly he's here and not, say, in the mess hall, explaining his whole I am an Ancestor comment to the Taranins or should I?"
"Quid facis?" Elizabeta asks, her Terran accent so much thicker than Rodney's that it's difficult to make out even those two words. Granted, Rodeny's isn't much better, but at least he's paid enough attention to pick up on the correct pronunciation for some things.
"Taranum aliquid," Iohannes enunciates slowly for their benefit, "res edisserere gigno," beginning the slow process of unwinding his consciousness from the city's without damaging either of them in the process. He's got what he needs anyway. Atlantis can begin the even slower process of compiling the data without him.
The Altera mourned the loss of the Morderati and cursed themselves for their part in their destruction, vowing to use better judgement should they ever come across another race again in their great, lifeless sea of stars. And, after many thousands of years, they found another blue world that had managed to give life to another race, and this world they called Gaheris, and its people Gaheres.
But the Gaheres were an even younger race than the Morderati, and though the Altera were careful and tried to guide them to knowledge rather than merely gift it to them, the Gaheres too destroyed themselves and their blue world. And once again the Altera are alone.
"What could he possibly be making in the Control Chair that would help explain things to the Taranins?"
"Don't look at me. I've been too busy working on the Arcturus Weapon and the ATLAS Device and now Aurora and Orion to give the Chair any real study," Rodney says, defensive and annoyed all at once. "I know exactly as much about it as I do about the one in Antarctica, give or take the fact that this one somehow managed to keep John in stasis 'til we got here, and that probably has more to do with John than the Chair itself. Carson was able to make the one at the outpost show a map of our solar system; maybe John's making some sort of PowerPoint presentation of his own."
"Fere," Iohannes says, startling them both, but he's got enough wherewithal to reactivate his translation matrix, even if output takes a little longer to come back online than input. "Ars emisso de histora Alterorum."
"News flash, John. Showing them a hologram isn't going to do much to dissuade them from the whole you're a god thing Teyla's been working on for the last two hours, no matter what it says."
After the loss of the Gaheres, the Altera cursed themselves doubly, for they were doubly fools for thinking they, who were still learning wisdom, could teach others. Their pride and vanity had led to the destruction of three blue worlds in their great, lifeless sea of stars, and the utter loss of two races which did not have to die. And so they vowed that when next - if ever - they found another blue world, they would not interfere, nor intercede, nor show undo interest in the race who inhabited it, nor intervene on their behalf. They would let the next race make their own choices and leave the fate of that blue world in the hands of its own children, as it should have always been.
Thousands of years passed. And then the Altera found one last, final blue world, and this world they called Valuanii, as they did the race to whom it belonged.
And it is there the Haeresis began.
"Yes, well," Iohannes says, easing the cathedra upright, "do you have a better idea?"
Rodney scowls at him, then hits him upside the head. "Yes. You could just talk to them instead of, I don't know, disappearing to God-knows where for hours and worrying us half to death."
Frowning himself, "I didn't disappear. I needed to talk to Hermiod. Besides, Lorne knew where I was going."
"You disappeared," Rodney repeats.
"I'm also an adult and fully capable of taking care of myself for a few hours, especially in my own city."
Both Rodney and Elizabeta look like they want to protest this, but, thankfully neither of them do. Instead Elizabeta says, "So, rather than simply explaining the situation to the Taranins, you decided to slip off and make a hologram instead?"
"Well," Iohannes says, rubbing the back of his neck as he walks around to the back of the cathedra, "when you put it that way..."
"Really? And what way am I supposed to put it?"
He kneels down and removes one of the access panels on base of the cathedra. "Look, all I know is that we've been down this road before, my people. Once people start believing we're gods, things start going downhill, fast. The temptation to interfere... It's unbearable."
He can already feel the power of their conviction reaching out to him like tendrils, just waiting for him to take it. It isn't much, hardly noticeable at all, but it's there. It's there, and Iohannes knows that if it stays there long enough, he'll reach out and take it. Because that's the kind of person he is: the kind who, if given a way to save Atlantis and the people on her, he'll take it, no matter how terrible the consequences.
"John," Rodney says, placing what's probably meant to be a comforting hand on his shoulder, "I think if the others were going to punish you for interfering with us, they would've done so by now."
"It's not them I'm worried about."
"John," Elizabeta repeats, sounding tired and pinched and annoyed, like she knows upfront that she's not going to like the information she's asking for but wants to know it nonetheless.
He tosses her the crystal. "Watch the ars. That's what it's for."
Elizabeta looks down at the crystal in her hands like she doesn't know what to make of it. And maybe she doesn't. The Terrans are a young race, for all the try to pretend otherwise, and it will still be many centuries before they come close to learning all the secrets Atlantis holds.
Iohannes crosses the room and takes the crystal from her and slides it back into it's slot on the cathedra's base.
"'Lantis? Mind playing the ars for us?"
The lights in the cathedra room dim and, above the chair, an image of the home galaxy appears with it's bright central bar and two long, trailing arms, which no Alteran has seen with his own eyes in more years than most of their Descendants have numbers for. The image zooms in, closing in on an image of ancient satores converging from all corners of their small, known corner of the galaxy over an utterly decimated planet in the hope of figuring out how their homeworld had been destroyed. And over this comes a female voice - Matertera Catalina, stolen from all the many lectures she'd given Iohannes on the subject - saying, "Once upon a time..."On to Pars Tria